Speed Reads


John Oliver zeroes in on the real problems with Trump's Joe Arpaio pardon, DACA waffling

John Oliver on Trump's Joe Arpaio pardon

Presidential pardons are "one of the most powerful tools available to a president," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. There have been controversial pardons before, he said, bringing up a NSFW one from Abraham Lincoln involving a horse, but even by those standards, President Trump's pardon of Joe Arpaio "was a doozy." You might know Arpaio from his carefully cultivated image as "America's toughest sheriff," a role he built by using inmates as "props for a reality show, and sometimes literally," Oliver said. But there's a darker underbelly.

He ran though Arpaio's inhumane, even deadly, treatment of inmates at his jails — not even prisons — and his selective application of law enforcement. It wasn't until more than 10 minutes into the 14-minute segment that Oliver even brought up the reason Arpaio needed Trump's pardon: obstruction of justice stemming from racial profiling.

Unlike Trump's stated rationale for pardoning Arpaio, "he was not 'just doing his job,' Oliver said. "He was also doing something illegal. You wouldn't say that John Wayne Gacy was just doing his job, even though he was, by all accounts, a pretty good birthday clown." The real problem with Trump's pardon is that "Arpaio broke the rules he was sworn to uphold, rules that are put in place to protect citizens from a government going out of control," Oliver said, and Trump thinks that's a good thing.

Oliver also tacked Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program, probably. "He's all over the place," he said. "DREAMers have to go, but maybe they can come back, or maybe they don't have to go at all, and in the meantime, 800,000 people's lives are in the balance." In Trump's "maddeningly vague" attempts at clarification, he said not to worry, he'll make everyone happy. "Okay, listen, because this is important," Oliver said. "Anytime Trump says that he is going to 'make people happy' or that 'you're going to be happy' in the future, that means that he has got nothing and is trying to end the conversation," like "somebody who forgot to buy an anniversary gift and is stalling for time." If you don't believe that Trump does this all the time, and even tries to convince people he made unhappy that they were really happy after all, let Oliver convince you otherwise. There's some NSFW language. Peter Weber